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New York Teacher

When is a charter school no longer a charter school?

When it decides to give up its charter so it can access the resources available to other public schools.

That’s exactly what the staff of the UFT Charter School in East New York, Brooklyn, has decided to do. The school’s Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 27 to bring the school under the supervision of the city’s Department of Education as a regular public school. If the move is approved by the Panel for Educational Policy in April, the school will become a regular public school starting in July, with a new name to be decided by the school community. 

During the conversion, the school will remain open. The school charter would only be relinquished if and when a conversion was approved and the school was accepted as a traditional public school. The UFT’s relationship with the school changes, but it does not end. 

The high school has 180 students, mostly African American and Hispanic, and a staff of 18. The UFT Charter School opened in 2005 as an elementary school and expanded into a middle and high school. In 2015, the UFT closed its elementary and middle grades to focus on the high school. 

By joining the city’s traditional public school system, educators at the charter high school are looking to provide greater access for their students to the arts, Advanced Placement courses, technology, dual-language programs and sports programs. 

The State University of New York Charter Schools Committee, the regulatory agency that oversees many charters, called the high school an academic success when the committee renewed its five-year license in 2017. Results from the 2018–19 academic year showed that, despite admitting 9th-graders with low proficiency scores, the UFT Charter School posted a higher graduation rate than the citywide average and the average rate for schools with similar demographics.

The school provided a strong foundation for its students. Now it will build on that foundation as it enters the public school fold.

Related Topics: Editorials, Charter Schools